The Crestmont Project

As many neighbors will know, there’s an ongoing proposal to build 34 new units of housing at the end of Crestmont. The City is currently conducting an Environmental Impact Review (EIR), and Dr Sam Sobol (of the Crestmont- Mt Sutro Neighborhood Preservation Coalition) tells us the draft EIR is expected to be completed in September or October 2010.  A large group of neighbors opposes it, and the Coalition’s website (click on the Stop sign to access it) details who to write to. That website also has more detailed information about the project and related issues. And photographs.


The project would extend Crestmont after a hairpin bend where the cul-de-sac ends now, and build along the lower edge of the resulting 20-foot road. This may impinge on land currently owned by a neighborhood association.

What’s the problem with the project?

This Google Map demonstrates some of the issues with the project. This is one of the steepest areas of the mountain. (The map already shows this road, complete with hairpin bend, even though it currently doesn’t exist – it’s a narrow mud trail. )

The hills are not only steep, they are not very stable. There’s a history of rock-slides, including the destruction of a home, fortunately unoccupied at the time.

The houses above where the planned project would go already rest on high stilts of steel or concrete. Residents fear that construction activities could weaken the hillside, putting the whole group of houses above it – and all the people in them – at risk during an earthquake.

(Click here for photographs of the site from the website of the Coalition.)


  • Increased traffic and increased accident risk on a narrow and winding road. “…Drastically increased traffic density of Crestmont Drive, a roadway so narrow beyond the uphill bulkhead that two cars are unable to pass when cars are parked, as they always are, on either side of the street..”
  • Risk to children playing on the street (since Crestmont Drive homes lack yards).
  • Limited access for fire and emergency vehicles. The street below the hairpin bend would be a dead end and only smaller vehicles could turn there.
  • Too little parking. The plan allows for 1.5 parking spaces per 3 and 4 bedroom unit. Since this the terrain limits access to public transport,  each household will probably need 2-3 cars, especially if the condos are rented as shared housing.
  • The wind usually blows uphill from the west. It would carry noise,  and fumes from cars, fireplaces, barbeques, up to the homes above. It also heightens the fire risk. If a fire started in a downhill building,  the wind could carry cinders uphill and ignite the all-wooden homes above, while also setting brushfires in surrounding areas.
  • Four large high density buildings and a total of 34 condos would change character of this neighborhood of single family homes and duplexes,  and have a negative impact on home values.
  • The existing trail functions as a neighborhood park and open space, accessible even to those who cannot climb the steep hillside of Mt Sutro to get to the mountain trails. This is one of the few pristine areas that has never been built on.

Every Tree in San Francisco

It’s an ambitious project: a database listing every tree in San Francisco.

The new wiki in town is an Urban Forest Map that relies on crowd-sourced information, rather like Wikipedia. The project is live now (in beta), and anyone can play. You can go in and enter information on any tree you are familiar with – on the street, near your home, near your office or school.

The software will allow all the different organizations that track San Francisco’s trees to share information. According to an article on KQED’s website, developer Amber Blieg says 17 different entities in the city manage and track trees, but had no easy way to share information. The software will also allow citizen scientists to add trees to the database. There’s even a software to help identify tree species: The Urban Tree Key.

CAL FIRE funded the project, and Blieg developed it in co-operation with Friends of the Urban Forest, and the City of San Francisco. If they can pull this off, it will yield information about tree species, sizes, and allow users of the database to derive information about tree-cover, risk from pest infestations, and climate change effects. Trees help cities by mitigating urban heat islands, reducing and purifying storm water run-off, as well as providing habitat for birds, animals, and insects. And making the urban landscape lovelier and raising property values.

There are good reports on the project on the KQED website, (“An Earth Day Natural: San Francisco’s Tree Census“) and in the Science section of the major online magazine, Wired, (“The Plan to Map Every Tree in San Francisco“).

Around: Stow Lake Evening

A marvelous feature of our neighborhood is that it’s so close to Golden Gate Park.

Mt Sutro from Stow Lake – shows UCSF (Photo credit: LC)

The park is full of wonders, from the carousel to the Japanese Garden to the museums and golf-course and windmill… but Stow Lake remains a favorite. (Not just with me – this neat essay talks about looking for microbes in Stow Lake water.)

Stow Lake is an artificial lake that feels natural. With the island of Strawberry Hill in the middle, and smaller islands where birds can safely nest, it’s become a bird and animal habitat. At the same time, it’s very accessible.  It’s paved all round, which means that even people who can’t safely walk trails can go around the lake. For those who want more, Strawberry Hill has trails encircling it and climbing it. And there are the boats, or at least, if you go early enough and are willing to pay the fees, there are boats. (Stow Lake access is free.) Parking is seldom a problem.

Old postcard from Save Stow Lake Boathouse website shows college that became UCSF. (Click on pic to go to website.)

Being San Francisco, of course there’s a controversy: A historic boat house and snack stand on the edge of the lake may be turned into a cafe (this links to a PDF file from Rec and Parks, describing the project and asking for proposals from interested concessionaires.) Opponents  fighting to prevent a restaurant fear it will alter the historic character of the boat-house and destroy the peace of the area. I wonder if this latest iteration (dated 5 March 2010) which notes that Rec and Parks don’t want a restaurant with table-service (i.e., upscale) represents an acceptable compromise?

I was at the lake one evening, not long ago. It was too late for the boats, late enough that most people had left, except for a few joggers and dog-walkers.  The lake had ducks, coots, Canada geese, and seagulls, but most of them had called it a day. Even the herons in the nesting colony in the trees near the boathouse had settled down.

A rat ran through the undergrowth, and a few squirrels. This one glared at me from a redwood. They’re pretty unafraid, out at Stow Lake. They know we’re not going to eat them, and who knows, maybe we’ll feed them.

The birds were starting to look for places to roost, and I heard the soft, resonant hoot of a Great Horned Owl. Bats emerged in ones and twos, fluttering and swinging across the sky.

Finally the moon rose over the pines. Peaceful.

West Portal Festival (Apr 10-11, 2010)

Someone called to tell me about a great little art festival at West Portal this weekend.  “There are stalls all the way down on both sides,” he said, “You should check it out.”

I did, of course, intending to browse for a bit.   It was not so little – there were something like seventy stalls. There were ceramics. Art glass (including one artist whose work reminded me of Dale Chihuly’s). Handcrafted jewelry of fused glass or silver or beautiful stones. Handmade clothing, dramatic and unique. Furniture. Inlaid wood mirrors. Artistic switchplates. Books made into boxes.  And wonderful art, from oil paintings to beautiful photographs to prints and hand-drawn pictures and water-colors.  Kaleidoscopes. Handmade dolls’ clothing to fit “American Girl” dolls. Wooden toys. Handmade dolls and animals, including a few monsters.

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I got a few photographs for this website which I’ve set up as a slide-show above. (See if it works for you, this is the first time I’ve tried one. You should be able to either click through, or let the pictures change automatically.) Not everyone wanted their stalls photographed. (Some have had their designs stolen by people who photograph and reproduce them.)

The mood was mellow and friendly, with artists all willing to talk about their work.  Some of the regular West Portal merchants had taken advantage of the activity to put out their own outside displays. It’s on tomorrow and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s a nice place to pick up one-of-a-kind gifts for your friends, your home,yourself. I hadn’t planned to buy anything, but I did anyway. I’ll probably go back tomorrow.

On the street and at our feet

The pink paint marking the drains, and the broken water main a few months ago, drew attention to all the stuff that’s happening below our streets. So the other day, we wandered around with our cameras pointing at all the circles and rectangles on the sidewalk. There were a lot of them: a wealth of services beneath our feet, representing civilization, urban comfort, and the conveniences of Forest Knolls. It’s strange to think we’re only a couple of generations away from fetching water from wells, using outhouses, and lighting our nights with candles and our streets with gas.


It was an interesting mix of covers. This grating was like a piece of modern art, with the ladder reaching down to a reflective circle of water below. At first, it appeared to be a drain of some sort… but it’s got the words  PG&E and “High Voltage.”

High Voltage

Another “High Voltage” cover was more prosaic, a simple concrete rectangle.

PG&E high voltage


In fact, quite a few covers on the street were from PG&E. This manhole cover with a nice geometric design seems to be, though it’s difficult to know which cover does what. (If anyone knows, leave a comment! Or email us at


Another whole bunch were from the Water Department. (The sewer cover’s included here, though it’s actually labeled SFDPW.)

SFWD, Two covers

SFDPW sewer

The little square with holes in it is most probably a drain cover.

Scott Co (drain cover?)

But the handsomest cover on the street is a cast iron oval with the Golden Gate Bridge on it, labeled San Francisco Water Department Meter Box. Wonder when it was made? Some time in the 1950s, when Forest Knolls was built?

SFWD meter box


And then there’s the Telephones.  And the TV Cable. And  the Survey Monument, which doesn’t represent a utility but instead helps put us on the map and define the lots on which our homes are built.  And the Street Lights. And “Electrical” again, but it’s not clear what and why, though it may be connected with the Street Lights since the covers are together and next to a lamp post.

Survey Monument
Telephone (with graffiti?)
TV Cable


Street Lighting

And then there was this odd-looking pair of covers labeled PT-T. Anyone know what they are?

Pacific Telephones and Telegraph

.Edited to Add: PT-T probably stands for Pacific Telephones and Telegraphs… (see the comment to this post – Thanks, Laura).

Or why X marks the spot on this sewer-cover?

X marked sewer

Edited to Add: Just saw this — the moss has picked out “Bell System” on this cover.

After the rain, moss picks out BELL SYSTEM


Book lovers! April 10th

I was sent this notice about a BOOK BLAST planned for Saturday, April 10th. It’s right down the hill from us, in the yard of a lovely house at 6th and Irving.

Barbara and her husband have been collecting book donations for the last few weeks. (They still are, until March end. You can drop off books in good condition at 1297 6th Avenue, inside their sheltered doorway by the red door – that would be behind the big tree and car in the picture below. They’re no longer offering pick-ups, though, they’re too busy sorting books!)

On April 10th, they’re having a Book Blast in their yard – like a block party from Noon to 5pm, featuring FREE books, sunshine & music. [We’re hoping the sunshine thing works! But there’ll be books!]

Here’s the note she sent us:

“Please bring plenty of *strong* paper/plastic bags or boxes for your newly found treasures. All items at this first-ever Inner Sunset FREE event will be FREE to all. You are welcome to take away any books, magazines, or books-on-tape that you find.

“To answer everyone’s question, this is NOT a charity event. This is NOT a swap. There are NOT funds to be raised by this. NO money will be exchanged…It is our neighborhood’s effort to recycle books. It is simply books FROM those who donate, TO those who wish to take them. It is a *completely* free event, supported by volunteers with our particular Inner Sunset community spirit.

“We are offering kids’ books, encyclopedias, magazines, travel books, paperbacks, cookbooks, books-on-tape, coffee-table books, puzzle books, dictionaries, foreign-language and maps.

“Leftover books will be donated to the SF Public Library for their annual fundraiser.”

Sutro Forest Update

A number of neighbors attended the meeting called by UCSF for 24 March 2011, including Walter Caplan, President of Forest Knolls Neighborhood Association. (Walter took the opportunity to explain the Crestmont issue to a cluster of people around the map of the forest.)

A Romantic Entrance to the Forest

UCSF’s meeting was intended to inform the neighbors about the reasons for the withdrawal of the FEMA application; reaffirm their commitment to a safe, healthy, beautiful and usable forest; and lay out next steps.

Barbara French opened the meeting with why they withdrew the FEMA applications:

  • They were more aggressive than the adaptive management principle called for in the 2001 Plan for the forest;
  • FEMA indicated that the environmental review would take about 2 years, much longer than UCSF wanted.
  • Once an environmental review started, UCSF would need to maintain the status quo until completion.

Instead, UCSF itself will do a full environmental review, as required by the California Environmental Quality Act . They hope to use UCSF funds that had been set aside as matching funds for the “FEMA project.” This review (through its Campus Planning office) would cover all intended actions over the full 61-acre area of the forest to avoid “piece-mealing.” It would take about a year, and would be preceded by three community workshops.

With the conclusion of the environmental review, eucalyptus trees would be “thinned” on 2 acres as a demonstration. (The location and nature of the demonstration would be subject to community input.) As soon as that was done, work would proceed on the South Ridge and Edgewood cut zones. The whole plan would take into consideration the rainy season as well as the bird nesting season.

There’s more information about the meeting and the timeline at the SutroForest website.

Another Happy Ending

For those of you who’ve seen this Lost Cat poster in our neighborhood for a gray and white cat: it’s been found. Emmet McDonagh posted a message to the neighborhood Group to say they’d found the cat and were watching it until its owner picked it up.

This community is wonderful about pets.

Meanwhile, the black lost cat Sebastien is still missing. He may have been spotted hiding in shrubbery on the other side of Twin Peaks, but the identification was unsure.

Muni Thefts, SFPD Maps

We’re getting the Park Station newsletter from the SFPD. One of the articles concerned crime on the Muni. Apparently, there’s been an rash of thefts targeting people using laptops and Ipods  and the like on the Muni trains or stops. The newsletter had some tips:

“Passengers are reminded to be aware of their surroundings while traveling on Muni. Suspects prey on victims using these devices knowing they are distracted while texting or listening to music on PDAs, using laptops, and talking on cellular phones. Passengers should be careful to limit the use of these devices and always be aware of other passengers on the vehicle.

“If a passenger notices anything suspicious, the person should call the Muni complaint line, 923-6164. For emergencies or for crimes in progress, call 9-1-1 (553-8090 for cellular phones), and for non-emergencies, 553-0123.”

Maybe a good idea to enter that number on your cellphones.

Anyone who wants to get on the Park Station newsletter list can do so by emailing Captain Teri Barrett. Her email address is


The SFPD website also has a neat tool – an interactive map which allows you to see crimes reported in a specific area in the previous 90 days.  It needs a fast internet connection – DSL or Cable – and it’s a bit slow. It doesn’t show homicides, and it’s hedged about with warnings about its accuracy. Still it gives an interesting picture of crime in the area. (Forest Knolls had three thefts from cars, all on Warren Drive. It’s a relatively safe area, but don’t leave anything valuable where it can be seen.)

Clarendon U-turns

They’re planning to prohibit U-turns on northbound Clarendon Ave x Oak Park on schooldays, for an hour each in the morning (9 -10 a.m.) and afternoon (3-4 p.m.).  This is apparently to prevent parents from making a U-turn on Clarendon to cut ahead of the other parents waiting in line to drop off or pick up their kids. The SFMTA hearing was on 19 February 2010. This will be updated when we know the outcome.

Update: Neighbor Laura Bloch sent a message to say, “It appears the U-turn hearing was postponed and the prohibition won’t be mandatory, just a suggestion/plea from the school to prevent accidents and injuries.  The plan is to have a sign there, but only during those two time periods (morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up).”

Charming Little Farmer’s Market on Sundays

We knew we shouldn’t have gone late. But it was already noon last Sunday, and the Inner Sunset Farmer’s Market at 9th and Irving ends at 1 p.m. We’d forgotten all about… parking.

So we barely made it, getting there at 12.30, but it was worth it. It’s a charming neighborhood market, year round, Sunday mornings until 1 p.m.

It only has about 20-30 stalls, which makes it just the right size to browse through. In addition to the fresh, local (and some organic) produce, there were some interesting products like soap and various kinds of foods. The Urban Farm Girls, contrary to their name, don’t farm; they do garden design, including container gardens.

We were especially delighted by City Bees, which actually has beehives all over the city. It may have been their bees up on Twin Peaks, browsing in the oxalis and lupin. Their honey is labeled by origin: we bought some Marin Blackberry, though it was a tough choice between that and the Star Thistle honey. 

The stalls looked to be doing well. “Are we all sold out of the red chard?” someone said  at one booth. Good!

We stopped for stuffed grape leaves at this friendly Mediterranean place:

And tasted the spicy carrot and beetroot pickles here, regretfully deciding not to buy a jar because both were delicious, but we’d never finish them. Pity they didn’t have little jars.

The Extra Virgin Olive Oil was also very tempting, but was forgone for the same reason.


The market had an attractive medley of fruit and flowers, including some gorgeous orchids.


Dogs aren’t allowed into the Market (that’s regulations) but the Inner Sunset Park Neighbors, the neighborhood association responsible for the market, has arrangements:

Neighborhood Meeting – Police, Traffic, Sutro Forest, and Crestmont

The Forest Knolls Neighborhood Organization meeting earlier this evening featured a number of speakers:

Police Captain Teri Barrett of the Park Station (at Waller x Stanyan) talking about crime.

The main problem in our (aside from speeding) was auto burglaries with broken car windows. (Don’t leave anything valuable visible! Put it in the trunk.) She was also enthusiastic about Comstat, an information technology that provides real-time information about crime; and about a reorganization that put more resources out at the stations. She also said if you want to be on the email list for the police blotter, email her at

Jack Fleck

Jack Fleck of the Municipal Transport Agency talking about traffic.

He spoke of the issues with putting in Speed Humps: cost, and pain for people in the disability community who have spinal problems. They do traffic studies. If 85% of cars are going at least 5 miles over the speed limit, they’ll consider it. He also discussed traffic from Clarendon School drop-offs and pick-ups.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd talking about the traffic mess expected at St Francis Circle this summer, and Laguna Honda Hospital’s planned June 2010 opening.

Sean Elsbernd

He also took questions on various topics, including solar panels on reservoirs. (Yes, we will have them if the pilot project works. No, the power won’t come to our homes, it’ll go to the City.) And some got to see a cell-phone pic of his cute baby…

There was a Sutro Cloud Forest presentation, covering topics discussed at the Save Sutro website.

UCSF had applied for a FEMA grant to cut down 90% of the trees under 3 feet in girth, and remove all the understory, from a quarter of the forest, for the purpose of Fire Hazard Mitigation. In fact, CalFire classifies this area only as Moderate fire hazard, its lowest rating. Moreover, this is a Cloud Forest: the eucalyptus catches moisture from the fog, it falls into the duff which holds it like a sponge, and the understory further insulates it from drying out. So year round, it’s damp in the forest. Our concerns were that the Plan would open out the forest, making it windier and dryer, and also artificially reclassify the area as having a Very High fire risk, with implications for insurance and disclosure on sale of homes. Other concerns: increased landslide risk, toxic herbicides, weakening of the remaining trees, and loss of habitat for birds and animals  in this Historic forest.  UCSF has withdrawn its FEMA application, and has called a meeting for 24 March 2010 to discuss its next steps. [Edited to Add: The meeting report is here.]

Walter Caplan of Forest Knolls Neighborhood Organization, who ran the meeting, read out an email from Craig Dawson of Mt Sutro Stewards , which regretted he couldn’t make it and was concerned there would be no counterbalance to the Save Sutro presentation. Unexpectedly, he made it after all. He described his autobiography, the beauty of the forest, the Historic Trail the Mt Sutro Stewards are working on now connecting Stanyan with the forest, and the work they’re doing building trails all over the city. There did not appear to be any conflict with the prior presentation.

Dr Sam Sobol talking about Crestmont Hills.

The project, which had seemed dead, is being revived. An Enviromental Review is now in progress. Look here for more information, or at the Crestmont Preservation website.

We ran out of time for questions. If you put any questions in the comments here, we’ll forward them to the right person.

Neighborhood Meeting 11 March 2010, 7.30 p.m

There’s to be a neighborhood meeting at the Armenian Church on Thursday, 11 March 2010. The poster is shown below.  (However, Craig Dawson of Mount Sutro Stewards may be unable to attend. A short statement from him may be read out.)

[Edited to Add: Read our report on the meeting.]

Crestmont plan rides again?

Just heard from someone that the Crestmont project may have been revived.

There may be more details available at the neighborhood meeting on March 11th (at the Armenian Church, 275 Olympia Way, 7.30 p.m.) This website will be updated when we know more. (Edited to Add: Read on.)

Dr Sobol sent out this bulletin (reprinted below).


BULLETIN from Crestmont-Mt.Sutro-Forest Knolls Neighborhood Preservation Coalition.
Update March 11, 2010
Crestmont Hills Condo Development Raises its Ugly Head… Again!

The massive 34-unit condominium Crestmont Hills project, on the west slope of Mt. Sutro at the end of Crestmont Drive, has been resurrected yet again. First proposed in 2004, this project, so huge and inappropriate for our neighborhood, threatening hillside seismic stability and guaranteeing more Forest Knolls traffic and parking problems, was stalled by a massive show of opposition from our neighborhood. With the help of Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, a formal Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was mandated.

In April 2007, the project seemed defeated when fees were not paid. The Planning Department deemed it inactive and the property was sold at a Trustee Sale. However, the buyer, Magaved Magomedov, one of the original project partners, moved forward with the EIR process – until the economic shock of the fall of 2008, when fees were again in arrears and the project was placed on indefinite hold by the Planning Department.

Crestmont Hills remained stalled during 2009, but in the past two weeks we have been notified that the fees have been paid and the project is moving forward again through the EIR process. Our neighborhood must once more let our voice be heard and raise our objections to this monstrous project.

We urge all Forest Knolls neighbors to do the following:

1.    Contact the Planning Department’s Environmental Review Section
– Express your objections and concerns
– Request that your household be placed on the mailing and e-mail list to be notified of any developments regarding the Crestmont Hills project

Mail your comments, concerns and request for notification to:
Irene Nishimura, Major Environmental Analysis Section, 1660 Mission St., Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94103; RE: Crestmont Hills Residential Project, Case No. 2004.0093E; e-mail:

2.    Express your concern to Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton Goodlett Place, San Francisco, CA 94102,

3.    Demonstrate your objection to this project by placing a “STOP CRESTMONT HILLS” poster in a window or on your garage or fence (contact us to obtain a poster for indoors or a laminated poster for outdoor display).

4.     Stay updated by checking our web site, Please sign up on the web site or provide your e-mail address so that we can ensure that you are notified about any breaking news or developments.

CONTACT:  Dr. Sam Sobol, 415-640-3869,


In Praise of Dog Owners

Edited to Add: PETS page is up and running. Send pictures of your pets to fk94131 at if you want them there. (Permission to publish will be assumed if you send pictures.)


I don’t have a dog.

Nevertheless, I think that a neighborhood is richer for having dog-owners in its midst. Specifically, Forest Knolls is richer for being a dog-friendly neighborhood.

If it weren’t for dog-walkers, there’d be very few people out and about. People have busy lives, and go elsewhere for exercise. Our homes are built with garages at street level, and gardens in the back: Great for privacy, not so good for community.

It’s the dog-owners who are out there. Many of them know each other, or at least know each other by their dogs. They care about each other and each other’s pets.

That’s the kind of thing that builds community.

There’s the charm of the dogs themselves. Big ones, little ones, pure-bred or mutts, they’re a friendly tail-wagging presence and give life to our neighborhood.

I asked a few dog-owners I met around Forest Knolls to let me take pictures of their dogs. They were willing; so far, no one has said no. The dogs, too, were mostly willing – except when they were trying to get close enough to lick my face.

Shouldn't happen

(Only one request, dog-owners – please clean up after your doggies. I know nearly everyone does nearly all the time…)

They are also an obvious presence in our neighborhood; they see what’s going on. Night or day, rain or shine, the dogs need walks, and their people take them. Paws on the street means eyes on the street.

It keeps us all a little bit safer.

Rain or shine...

Some years ago, someone I know lived in a restored brownstone in Brooklyn. They had two large dogs, which occasionally barked. The neighbors grumbled, as some neighbors will.  After five years, the apartment was too small, and the dogs and their folks moved out.

Two weeks later, the building was broken into. And then a week after that, it was broken into again.

“Too bad you guys moved out,” the formerly grumbling former neighbor said. “Seems like your dogs were a deterrent.”

Probably true.


I’m thinking of starting a Pets page on this website, if people are interested and would like to contribute. Just pictures of our cats and dogs and birds and whatever other animals are in peoples’ lives. Leave a comment if you think it’s a good idea.

Another Stray Dog [Update: Gone home!]

One of our neighbors on Warren Drive found this dog. It has a collar but no tag and is frightened. If you know whose it is, please email the finder at vass42004 at or the webmaster of this site at fk94131  at

[Edited to Add: This just in.Thank you soooo much..The owners came by..]

Found stray dog

Eat your heart out, Mr Wordsworth!

A host of golden oxalis...

I wandered lonely as a cloud

[If a cloud wore a windcheater and carried a pocket-camera]

That floats on high o’er vales and hills

[Cole Valley and Twin Peaks, I guess]

When all at once I saw a crowd/ A host of golden daffodils;

[Or Bermuda Buttercups, alias oxalis]

Beside the lake

[Or above the reservoir, anyway]

Beneath the trees,

[Nope, no trees]

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

[Oh, yes. That.]

Forest Knolls seen from Twin Peaks, with flowers

It’s a wonderful feature of our neighborhood, having the iconic lookout point of Twin Peaks so close by. But at this time of the year, Twin Peaks is worth not just looking from, it’s worth looking at. Today, Sunday 28 February 2010, it’s particularly splendid. Twin Peaks is glorious with oxalis now, and scented with sweet alyssum.

I know oxalis is a weed, but it’s an extraordinarily lovely one. My take on it is, you can despise it and try to exterminate it; or you can enjoy it and try to photograph it.

There are a host of other flowers, native and not: Mustard, California poppy, wild iris, calendula, lupine. All set against the bright green of lush growing grass.

Go now, if you want to see it. (Sunny mornings are the best.) From March 2-16, they will start spraying Garlon, a toxic herbicide. You wouldn’t want to be there then, and by the time it’s done, the flowers will be gone.

Minor Fire in West Portal

We were in West Portal on Feb 25th afternoon, when the sirens started sounding, from all around us. They were converging on the last block of the shopping village, where, incidentally, we had parked. Several fire-trucks were arriving, and someone with a gurney, and all manner of emergency vehicles. It was an impressive response.

No fire was visible. A ladder leaned against the wall of the Sylvan Learning Center, next to the Clay Oven restaurant.

After a while, they started packing everything up. “Was it a false alarm?” I asked one of the responders.

“No,” he said. “We found a small fire on the roof. We’re investigating now.”

A block above the activity, the Muni trains – and their passengers – waited for the whole thing to clear. Traffic was blocked. Even as I left, things were sorting out and the emergency vehicles departing. Elapsed time, maybe 30 minutes.

Stray Black Pup [Safe home now]

This pup was wandering around the neighborhood on 24th Feb, between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saw it on Christopher near Crestmont, and then down on Oak Park.

Black, female, white collar with blue turquoise-look decorations.

ETA: Someone just posted the following note on the community newsgroup (Feb 25th evening):

“stray puppy is home and safe….and absolutely adorable.”

Here’s to happy endings!

Great Horned Owls in the Forest

The first owl...

If you live near the forest, perhaps you’ve heard the soft hoots at dusk, or in the early morning. Soft, but a sound that carries. Those are our Great Horned Owls; they nest in Sutro Cloud Forest.

Recently, we were up in the forest at dusk, and along a trail, as the light faded, we saw them. First we noticed one on a branch high overhead. It saw us, looked down, and decided we were neither threatening nor edible. Then there was an almost noiseless flapping, and another owl settled into a tree on the other side of the trail.

... and its mate

We didn’t want to use a flash, of course; that would disturb the birds. But we got something of a picture without one.